tv The Kudlow Report CNBC April 12, 2010 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT
you. tonight in senator orrin hatch thing the top rate could go to 80 or 90% if congress doesn't miraculously cut spending. despite all this, the dow closed over 11,000 for the first time since 2008. on the v-shaped recovery boom update. plus cowboy monetarism. wall street traders ought to be scared to death of a john wayne shooting out on -- fasting your seat belts.
welcome back to "the kudlow report." in just a moment, i'm going to update my v-shaped recovery scenario with three new charts, lumber, aluminum and business inventories. as the dow made it past 11,000 for the first time since accept 2008, the signs are there for a stronger rebound than most folks think. that's key point, but i want to raise this sobering point. longer term, we face an incredibly soaring tax hike problem if this country doesn't stop the massive federal spending and boroughs ways. i hope i stay for my interview with senator orrin hatch, who may be chairman after november's election. he says we with can go all the way back to a 90% tax rate if we don't stop spending.
the well-respected tax policy center, which is completely nonpartis nonpartisan, even left of center, says the top rate could get to 77%, and that would just get us to a 3% deficit share of gdp, nowheres near a balanced budget. as a supply-sider, i'm going to tell you reversing 50 years of lower tax rate progress that started under president john kennedy would be a brutal body blow to long-run economic prosperity and stock market. that's why i want you to hear what senator hatch has to say, and this is why my v-shaped recovery boom scenario can get me to year-end 2010, but not beyond that unless and until we see some big changes to washington money politics and policy. tomorrow evening we're going to have supply-side godfathers art laffer and robert mundell you
won't want to miss it because of the gathering storm clouds about the high tax threat unless american government stops spending. now, having said all that with those warnings, let's enjoy the here and now, one day at the same time. friday night i talked about a v-shaped recovery in profits, imss, household employment, commodity indexes, and railroad freight car loadings, all significant indicators of a stronger than expected economy in the quarters ahead. i just want to add a couple more tonight to our grouping. first of all, aluminum. you can see there's a nice move up. it's really kind of a v-shaped move. we'll call it a "u" on. alcoa reported better than expected profits, though did not make it on top-line retches. nonetheless i've talked about the commodity book. here's more evidence on
aluminum. next up, lumber prices. the same story really, this v-shaped move, and part of this is because of cutbacks in lumber production, but another part of the lumber price hike story is china and the global beam from the emerging countries, which need lumber, paper, pulp and processing. so aluminum and lumber, two economic-sense tiv commodities, along with copper, are all pointing toward at least a "u" moving to a "v." if not an outright "v." business inventories are beginning to accumulate. this is a key point for the stock market and the economy. now, i suppose you could say it's a "u" but i got to tell you, this is going to turn into a "v." if we don't see it in the first quarter, we'll see it in the
second, third and fourth quarters as well. finally i want to remind you of one. retail chain store sales were very, very strong, you have 10%. this really, truly is a "v." we get a new report on overall retail sales coming out wednesday. most folks are very optimistic, so let me summarize. i am sticking with my v-shaped recovery boom. i think the data coming in shows the economy is stronger than you think. profits are strong, the fed is still ultra-easy, nfb stories are building, commodities are strong, and as mike at darta told you, the so-called risk spreads are very, very narrow, and that suggests stronger economic growth, the stock market getting through 11,000 was a very good harbinger, but let's talk about that very stock market to talk about the pitfalls.
welt james altshullers, and michael panzer. i'm going to called one of you mr. inventory, and one mr. armageddon. in honor of dow's 11,000, let me hear from michael panzer, and the armageddon scenario, you don't believe in the v shape and you're not believing in the 11,000 dow, are you? >> i'm certainly now. this is reminiscent of deja vu, 2007, 2000, 1987, it all looked family, larry. >> as i get my way back to the desk here, 2007, 2008 brutal, but a lot of things have changesed since then, in fairness i. mike darta, by the way, is a brilliant analyst and has talked about how the credit spreads have improved, as an important indicator that we're
not headed to a catastrophe, and profits were falling back in those days, now they are rising, now before we get to the inventories, i just want to ask you, if these risk credit spreads, mike, are so darnd good, why do you believe we're going back to 2008, let's say? >> you know, they look almost as good back in the spring of 2007. i don't know if you remember that, but certainly not an ideal time for looking forward with optimism. we still have tremendous government involvement, tremendous fed involvement in the markets. how can you possibly assess what those credit spreads mean in the context of a financial system that is utterly dependent on the government? >> james altusher, what is your response? >> one major difference between now and 2007, this recession we had could really be called the greet liquidation.
companies slashed inventories at the fastest rate since the great depression. what are we seeing now? nonstop rebuilding of inventories. steel is going through the roof. companies from home depot to tiffany's have come on the in the past week and said they have had to restock the shelves. that's fueling a lot of the economic growth. it will end up hiring these employees and drive us into 2011. >> james, the commodity boom tends to corroborate that. i updated us today on aluminum and lumber. the whole crb futures index and crb industrial spot index shows the same thing. certainly the international news, at least from the emerging markets, show the same thing. how far can this inventory build go? what are you thinking for gdp?
>> profits are going to continue to grow. s&p consensus earnings are over $90. the market is trading as a forward multiple. we're seeing strong earnings growth across the board in every sector. the emerges markets, some of who were not hit as badly as the financial recession that struck here, these markets are still booming or in the process of booming, and they're buying a lot of goods from the u.s. now with our weaker dollar, i think this boom continues, and i think that inventory restocking will drive it. >> michael how do you react? and let me throw in ultra-easy money from the fed just to grease the wheels. >> clearly corporate and global corporate world overreacted in terms of slashing inventories, so yes we have a rebuilding
phase, but you're not seeing the changes in demand. i think alcoa's report is the epitome of that model. profits are improving, but nothing on the top line. >> retches grew 17% overother over. >> relative to expectations -- >> 17% is the big number for a large company like that. >> i could make the argument that wire commodity is strong, too. take farmers in china accumulating copper, all sorts of natural resources. the chinese themselves are stockpiling ahead of what they foresee as trouble ahead. i don't know if that's necessarily a positive sign. >> james, the national bureau of economic research, which is the arbiter of business cycles, they call the beginning and end of recessions. they're usually late. they didn't call the recession until late 2008. but they did say today that it's
too soon to call an end to the recession. this morning we have marty feldsteen on, a very distinguished professor at harvard, and i'm going to quote -- the risk xhi economy could still drop down again. how do you react to what marty said and the national bureau's refusal to call an end to the recession? >> clearly there's a lot of worries out there. nobody likes 9.7% unemployment, even if it is better than the you unemployment double digits we saw, but at the same time they're measured by the index of manufacturing. we're seeing it at its highest point in about five, six years. there's some significant growth here. we're seeing a lot of increases in temporary unemployment, i think all the signs are pointing in the right direction. of course, again, nobody likes to see unemployment at such a
high level, but it's steadily improving. >> armageddon, how are you playing this market? we just made it through the 11,000 benchmark. i don't want to be sober or tout it, but it is what it is. how are you playing this, michael? >> well, i think you have to focus on the sectors that have been juiced up by speculative buys. the materials is a vulnerable sector, for one. financials are starting to roll over on a relative basis. they've been underperforming for three to six months, depending on what you're looking at. a lot of the buying is low volume, low quality type activity, speculation in the hedge fund community. apparently hedge funds are buying equities at the fastest pace since 2007. i hate to keep going back three years, but they a deja vu moment, and for my point of view, you don't want to be long
term stocks. >> what would you do? >> cash or short-term instruments. it's all going to end in a perfect storm. >> that's terribly cheerful on a beautiful spring day. thank you for that. by the way, you notice i love you. i have such great respect for you. james altucher, a lot of people say the market rally has been on, quote/unquote, low volume and somehow that's a bad thing. how do you respond? >> i've done a lot of tests using software i wrote to trade the markets based on volume. volume actually has almost no real meaning in terms of the overall market movement. >> so what is your most single number one favorite right now? >> i like, as i mentioned about
a month ago, r.s., reliant steel. i think it's a great way to play the materials book that is currently happening. >> gentlemen, you're terrific. a pleasure. coming up, cowboy monetarism. is ben bernanke ready to be the strong, silent shoot from the hip john wayne kind of fed-head? i want to see the fed pull the trigger. i want to see wall street worried about the fed.
into subprime lending and ultimately its demise. mary thompson joins us with the details. a nasty story. >> it really is, all after a year and a half investigation by a senate subcommittee. it's unearthed some dirty lending practices at the failed thrift. in a statement, carl levin said washington mutual built a conveyor belt that dumped toxics assets into the financial system like a polluter dumping poison into a river. in 2003, up to 75% of the loans bought didn't meet the thrift standards, and even though senior management knew about it, did little to try to change it. employees went so far to cut and paste bank statements from current clients to create files for new borrowers so they would be approved more quickly. it was in the employees' interests to do this, because they were paid on volume rather than the quality of the loans they approved. in another instance, loans
generated by one office in california were so defective, aig stopped writing insurance on them, subsequently alerting the otc, the office of thrift supervision. levin says wamu did this in pursuit of big profits by selling them to wall street firms. and then they resold them in securitization process. questions of criminality at the failed thrift are going to be left to the justice department. the subcommittee holds the first of four hearings tomorrow, and wamu's former ceo kerry killinger will be one of those to testify. he was fired in 2008 just before the fdic took over wamu, and jpmorgan bought the banks assets in what some say was the steal or deal of the financial crisis.
>> mary, wamu, their senior management knew? >> they did. they did know what the report shows is a number of e-mails to, in some cases the audit committees of the board about these lacks practices at a variety at the subprime lender, as well as some of the prime operations. >> and where were the regulators? >> the regulators were notified. as i said in my report, both the fdic and otc were notified of these, i guess you could say, shoddy practices, but but they didn't do a lot about it. the regulators will get to say their part on friday, because they're being brought to testify before the subcommittee on friday. >> this is a front-page story. >> it will. >> unbelievable. more corruption in that area. mary thompson, thank you ever so much. let us turn to what i am calling cowboy monetarism.
in short, i want traders to be totally scared to death of a john wayne-type federal reserve shooting out the lights on higher interest rates. with me is peter navarrnavarra, university of california irvine business professor. peter, i'm not making this up. this has been around for a while, but the basic around goes like this. it wasn't only that interest rates were held down too low for too long, it was that alan greenspan's itsy-bitsy one-quarter percentage point hikes successfully telegraphed and signaled to weight was really no restraint at all, so they took gigantic risks. i want to put, i want the fed to be mean, cruel, brutal and nasty. remember ronald reagan? the soviets were scared to death, they thought he was a nuclear cowboy, guess what? it worked. i want the fed to be a nuclear interest rate cowboy when it
comes to wall street. >> there's a debate whether you should have full transparency and ben bernanke has been saying he wants to move to that. i think asymmetrically, you definitely want the street afraid of raisings rates that would help damp down speculation, but i would like some ice hockey monetarism. you know, the great wayne gretzky always used to skate not only where the puck was, but where it was going to be. the problem with the bernanke fed, it's always behind the curve. they were too slow to raise interest rates as the housing bubble built. after they did raise rates, they were too slow to cut them. i think a combination of monetarism and rules-based thing would be good. >> i want to say this, kevin warsh, member of the board of
governors, i think he's one of the top guys there, he gave a speech when the fed makes it will moves, they should make rapid moves. paul volcker did this in the 1980s. if the wall street traders know the fed will make these itsy-bitsy changes, that's not restraint. that's what i want to end, because as we just heard from mary thompson and the wamu story, and we know now from history, this risky trading was a big part of the meltdown that taxpayers had to bail out. i want the fed to be interest rate cowboys. >> let me say that i think you're right, larry, that this quarter point us to death thing is wrong, and i think swift, strong action when rules deck at a time it, but let me warn you, the thing that caused the nasdaq to crash was the greenspan 50
basis point surprise hike. i'd much rather see the fed follow more of a taylor rule and let everybody, all participants and stakeholders -- >> i don't think the fed should be thinking about bailing out the stock market or -- >> you're absolutely right. >> they should be thinking about long-term -- in saying zero interest rate, and i'm saying the fed should be unpredictable, unanticipated, peter. >> and if i can get on my soapbox for a minute, i think the most important thing going forward is have a discussion and rethinks just what an inflationary target should be for the fed. historically it's always been the core inflation, which takes out energy and food. if you hit 2%, then that's time to start raising rates, but check it out, larry. i mean, why leave out energy and
food today? in the past is because it was volati volatile, but we are until an upward trend, at least for energy -- >> and commodities. >> and right now we're at 2%. >> and commodities. >> and commodities. right now we're at 12%, which says we should be raising interest rates, as you would do as a cowboy. >> i want the fed shooting interest rate bullets left and right. the job of the fed is not to stabilize or rig stock market prices or any of that stuff. the job is to protect the taxpayers and people that own the money. let's keep the value of the money stable. let the fed be independent of wall street. too many people -- >> we've tried that for the past decade. >> i want them to get out of bed. i want the wall street trader to week up every morning with a cold sweat. >> i agree, larry. we've tried this for the last ten years.
what we have is gdp growth, which is 25% normal based on historical averages. you know what, larry, with these interest rates, what are we doing here? we're discouraging investment in a time when that's the only thing that will create job. we're encouraging risk-taking and leverage. we're begging or neighbor and screwing with the dollar, which doesn't help europe right now, and we have this kerry trade that people are going nuts, because people are boroughs money over here from the fed and putting it in brazil. let's get some argentinian cowboys and crack down. >> if we had some fed cowboys, they might even protect the value of the dollar. coming up in "the kudlow report," the very glass to pay your tax this is week, because senator orrin hatch thinks tax rates could go as high as 90% in
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to pay your tax this is week, because in the future they are going to soar unless congress miraculously cuts spending. that's right. a short time ago, i spoke with utah republican senator orrin hatch, senior member of the senate financial committee. he said it could go to 85% or 90% in the years ahead. take a listen. as you know, april 15th, thursday is tax day. my thought is we are lucky to pay taxes this coming thursday, because if you all in congress don't cut spending, then tax rates are going to spiral out of control in future years, and it's going to get worse and worse. what are you thinking, sir? >> no question about it. according to the president's own budget, the cbo says we'll double or deficit in five years and triple it in ten. by 2020, our national debt will be about $20.3 trillion. that's 90% of our gdp.
we just simply can't sustain that. i've got to tell you, no questions taxes will go up. by 2019, there's an estimated almost 15 million people will be paying about $3.9 million more than taxes, 15 million people below the threshold of $200,000, which of course shows the president has not told the truth on that. just to get the budget deficit down to 3% of gdp, not balanced, but 3%, first of all, they say if we that would be the
marginal tax rate, but they go on to say, even if we raise tax rates on anybody, the bottom rate would go to 10% to 14%, and the top rate would go all the way up to close to 50% what's the plans to cut spending? otherwise we are going to tax ourself and our economy into stings. >> well, there's no plan to cut spending. i just got through voting against the unemployment insurance liftoff again today, because the democrats won't cover what the costs are. they won't pay for it. they just keep adding bill after bill, expense after expense. i mean, they're selling our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren in my case, their future down the drain. i don't know why people until 29 years of age are so supportive of this president.
>> how did the 77% top tax rate strike you? >> listen it will be somewhere between 80% and 90% if we don't do something about it. the only way to raise this money is tax the middle class, and they'll say they're not, but that's exactly what they have to do in order to keep this pinneding. today was just a perfect illustration. >> look, you're going to be either the top ranks republican on the financial committee or you may be the chairman if there's a regime change in november. first of all, this morning we had liberal robert reich and conservative marty feldstein, they both came out against paul volck volcker's back tax proposal. how do you stand? >> it's hard for me to understand how paul volcker, as bright as he is, is going to ask
for a value-added tax, we were europe's worst night mares. that's a progressive tax that literally allows the left to continue to increase taxes the rest of our lives. i've said they're trying to europeanize american. the value-added tax, anytime you want to increase it, they'll be able to increase it. it's another thing to say, but we're not going to cut any spending, we're not going to get spending under control, we won't live within constitutional mandates. we won't find any way of trying to make this system work. we're going to at least 25%, and more than 25% of our gdp in expenses in this country. the nermal rate is somewhere around 20%. it's just awful. >> well, scott rasmussen's latest poll out yesterday, he says people feel like they're
overtaxed. interestingly, sir, 75% according to the poll say the top tax rate should only be 20%, but we're looking at 77%, 78% top rates, not even to balance the budget. so let me ask you, the $64,000, $64 billion, $64 trillion question, senator orrin hatch, soon to be chairman of the financial committee, what about spending cuts? what is the republican message here, sir? >> well, we need to make spending cuts look, the average wage in the federal government is $80,000. among average people, it's less than that. the largest unions in this country have to be federal employee unions. it's catching up with us. we have plain allowed the federal government to run out of
control. some people have said, you republicans, you had six years where you had both houses in congress. give me a break. i've been here 34 years, and other than good presidential leadership and just sheer guts, we have never had a fiscal conservative majority in the united states senate any day in those 30 years. >> i might be one of those people who would say that. i mean, look, federal employees, pay and benefits, that's a good place to start. what about other suggestions? agencies? departments? programs? i mean, there's been private sector belt tightening like there's no tomorrow, as you know, sir. the question is where's the federal belt tightening? >> that's the question. what we ought to do is at least reduce federal spending and federal bureaucracy by at least 1% every year and maybe as much as 5% every year. if we would all take a pay cut
around here, i think we would be better off as well. keep in mind when i was saying we never had a fiscal conservative majority in my years, we always had 3 to 6 republicans who would go with the liberal democrats. we've won some battles, even clinton on occasion, but unless we can change the nature of congress and get people here willing to cut back and look at the bureaucracy and say we don't need this or that the, we're not ever going to get these things under control. unless we can basically change the nature of congress, i think they get more credit for spending than conserving. you've been a top man on the judiciary for many years. we have a supreme court opening coming up. you have floated a deliciously tantalizing rumor that senator -- former senator and now secretary of state hillary
clinton will be on the supreme court. what's happening with that? do you know this, sir? would you support ms. clinton? >> let's put it this way. at this particular point, i would want to look at everybody. we would need to be thorough in our examination. when i did float that, almost immediately, the white house said no, she'll continue with the secretary of state, which makes me wonder, what are they trying to do? i think hillary clinton would be better than some i have heard that this president is considering. i think if the president is wise, he's going to find somebody who will get tremendous bipartisan support. that would help his paem, help him as a president. that would show him being sincere in trying to bring people together. i don't think they'll do that. he'll probably pick in really liberal person who will be an activist on the court. >> excepting hillary clinton, who might be your choice? >> well, i would rather not say
right now, because i don't want to kill that person's chances. no, it just makes sense to pick somebody who both parties can support. it would be nice to have 100-0 vote around here because the president has considered both sides, both parties. the future of our country, and really pick somebody who would be widely supported. i don't think that's going to happen. it hasn't happened with appointees, and the democrats feel the same thing about about but you could nobody robert sore or alita, two of the best we've had. >> thank you, senator, for your time. >> nice to be with you. >> it's interesting about senator hatch, moving over to the financial committee, he may be the chairman of the senate financial commutee, if he's
pessimistic, i don't know what to make of that, because that would be an absolute disaster. so we're going to talk some more about this issue. of course, tax day is right around the corner. it's thursday, april 15th. on top of all this, we've got new numbers that show over 50 million americans won't pay any income taxes at all. so "soak the rich" may by the new mantra out of washington, but it's sure getting old. keep it here. we would like to see the rich fully employed and investing, not eaten up.
president obama kicked off the largetsest gathering of foreign leaders in the u.s. since world war ii today, hoping to draw attention to the growing dangers of nuclear terrorism. cnbc chief washington correspondent john harwood has the full report. hello, john. >> well, larry, president obama offend a, spent most of the day in bilateral meetings with world leaders, the most important with the president hu jintao of china.
-- again iran which has the nuclear program. the most important concrete achievement today was an achieve by utrain to send its highly enriched uranium to the united states for reprocessing. >> the announcement we've made today is what we've been hoping to be able to say. i think the president believes that the commitment that ukraine, chile and other countries have made as a result of these efforts is something that will make the world demonstrably more secure. >> what important, the agreement with the ukraine is the success of this meeting will hinge on the outcome of those talks involves china, russia, and a separate commit issue with china, that is the value of the currency. the readout ways also positive, but said that -- on an equal
footing. i think that's code for china being willing to adjust the value somewhat, but not being seen as being pushed by the united states. >> john harwood, thanking very much. if we could avoid a trade war with china, that could be a very good thing. and we have our guests here to discuss it further. i want to do a quick tease. in a word, based on senator orrin hatch's interview and based on the tax policy foundation, a nonpartisan group, are we going to nuke the american economy with gargantuan tax hikes? mark, you first. >> we are not going to nuke the hike, but we must control spending. >> scott hodge, you second. >> larry, the deficits are unsustainable and the tax rates needed to bring them down are
unsustainable. yes. >> there's a part of me, scott, that says there's no way out of it, even i don't want to agree with it. we need the spending restraint. >> that's why they're pushing for the v.a.t. >> give me a quick one, on the morning show today, robert reich and marty feldsteen, both opposed the paul volcker v.a.t. tax idea. where do you come out on that? >> it's dumb, we should not do it. spending control is the way out of the woods. >> sounds like a kudlow supply-side remark. we'll be right back. scott hodge, and mark walsh. much more work to do when "the kudlow report" continues. (announcer) roundup extended control
your column, once self-reliant, now a nation of takers, what do you make of this, scott? >> i make of it, larry that we've turned april 15th into payday for as many as 52 million americans, who will receive as much as $70 billion in refunds, even though they don't pay income taxes. and other social benefits. it's distorting the tax code, and i think it's very harmful for the overall direction of the country to have so many people off the tax rolls. >> scott, does it create a a built-in political bias to spend more money and have more benefits, because they're not paying for it? >> certainly. you know the concept of fiscal illusi illusion, if government looks cheap, people will demand more of it. for these people, it looks like
a sugar daddy, handing out all kinds of benefits. that leads to not only class warfare, but a massive amount of redistribution that's going on. >> we posted a chart, the bottom two don't pay any taxes, and then the burdens rise rapidly. the top 10% pays about 75%. mark walsh, on the other hand, some of the reasons people don't pay income taxes is a lot of new tax credits from president obama who believes in his heart that this helps the economy. the earned income tax credit is just one of the -- >> i may shock you, brother, but i'm in great with some of his
tenets. the single biggest percentage increase in that percentage of homes happened under george w. bush. i'm interested in his response to how republican policies would have made that happen. if you look at those numbers, i think i'm correct, but a more meta-message i'm going to toss your way. that top 10% has shot off the charts, and i think those are the folks that will take it in the shorts tax policywise. i think mr. hodge has a point about people taking versus paying is offbase. they're not taking, they don't take more police force or defense spending. they are getting tax credits to make them spend the money in more acigarettesive ways that rebuild the economy, and i think obama is right. first-time home buyers need those tax credits. >> scott, it's worth while noting you are a nonpartisan
agency and you have been for quite a while. >> that's right. >> regarding these tax credits, they are part of the problem. don't they distort the efficiency of the tax system and the economy? >> really anymore there's just no difference between -- we've essentially turned the irs into a welfare agency. it's meant to simply raise money to pay the government's bills. i will challenge mark, though, that in fact we have estimated that as much as 60% of american families get more back in government spending than they pay in taxes. so indeed they are takers. the majority of americans are takers rather than givers. we have a shrinking group of people at the top who are paying not only their own tax bills, but millions of their neighbors. i think that's fiscally unsustainable. just look at california, because they are actually having more
progressive tax system than the federal government. >> mark, last 30 seconds. >> let me toss one final fact at you will. in 2006, 9 separation between the highest one tenth of 1%, their earning power multiplied by the average of the bottom 90 times was almost 100 times. the disparity of incouple times is the issue. it's not people taking, it's not the tax code being a welfare state. >> i've got to take exception to that. we're out of time, but i think it's about economic growth, capital formation, saving, investment and jobs. anyway, we'll be right back. it's monday,
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